7P notes: Apple iPad versus drawing tablets


For more general information about using iPads, go here: 7P notes: Apple iPad

In this document we'll compare ipads to the two kinds of drawing tablets:

  • pen displays

  • pen tablets

Because pen displays have an embedded screen, they are most similar to iPads unlike pen tablets which do not have a embedded screen.


  • Some popular drawing apps like are available on iOS, MacOS, Windows.

    • Popular examples: Clip Studio Paint

  • However, some PC applications are either not available on the iPad or not available as the full-featured versions

    • Example: Photoshop only has a "lite" version available on iOS

  • However, some PC applications are not available on the iPad at all

    • Example: Krita, Rebelle, Infinite Painter, Firealpaca

  • Some applications are of course only available on the iPad.

    • Procreate is a great example

Pen buttons

  • Apple Pencil does not have buttons like a normal drawing tablet pen

  • EMR pens have at least 1 button. The vast majority have two buttons. A few have 3 buttons.

Pen eraser

  • The Apple Pencil does not have an eraser unlike some EMR pens.

  • EMR pens most often do NOT have an eraser but some EMR pens such as the Wacom Pro Pen 2 to have an eraser. And the eraser itself is also pressure-sensitive.

Pen hover

  • Hover support is dependent on the combinations of ipad model and apple pencil model

    • Older iPad Pro models models do not support pen hover regardless of which Apple Pencil us used.

    • Some newer iPad Pro models do support pen hover

  • All drawing tablets support hover with their pens

Pointer lag

Pointer lag is how far behind the operating system pointer is behind the physical tip of the pen. It is always better to have less pointer lag.

  • Apple iPads with the Apple pencil 2 have incredibly little pointer lag

  • Apple iPad pointer lag is comparable to a pen tablet

  • Apple iPad pointer lag is noticeably less than pen displays


iPads and pen displays are subject to parallax. An apparent visual inaccuracy due to the display panel being a small distance away from the surface the pen touches. The smaller this distance the smaller the parallax effect. Less parallax is better. More here: parallax

In 2023, most pen displays have good or very good (meaning low) parallax. But the iPads have even less parallax than even the most expensive pen displays.

In my opinion, even the the iPad is better at having less parallax, the improvement is not so great compared to most modern pen displays that I would make a purchase decision on. You'll only see the difference for older less premium pen displays.

Anti-glare sparkle

  • iPads very little / undetectable amount of AG sparkle.

  • Pen displays have AG sparkle to various degrees. But none have as little as Apple iPad.

Pen replacement cost

Don't lose your pen! They aren't cheap to replace and some cost significantly more than others. The Apple Pencil is the most expensive pen in the market.

  • Apple Pencil 2: $130 USD

  • Wacom Pro Pen 2: $90

  • Huion PW517: $50

  • XP Pen X3 Elite pen: $30

  • XP Pen X3 Pro pen: $40

  • Samsung S Pen for Galaxy Tab: $50



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